“Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing.” – Aristotle
The constant need for approval can lead to some of our personal freedoms being destroyed.
Approval seeking is something I see a great deal within my work with patients, my children as they are growing up and within myself too. It is tough to help people recognise this within themselves and to see the futility of it the vast majority of the time. Some people desire the approval of others to the extent that it tends to motivate the majority of their choices and their actions in many areas of life.
Everybody has at least a part of themselves that often, or even constantly, wants some level of approval – whether it comes from your family, friends, peers or colleagues. Having this approval of the people around you tends to give you a simple feeling of satisfaction, a sense of security, the feeling of wanting to be loved and being deserving of love. A related study published in the journal Current Biology, states that the part of our brain that is associated with reward is more active when other people agree with, and reinforce our own opinions.
How is this constant need for approval holding you back?
Such a need for approval may have been negatively impacting your performance — while seeking approval, you may tend to procrastinate, you may avoid doing important things, you may have an exaggerated feeling of anxiety and fear, and not seeing the full picture in situations and scenarios in life.
Wanting other people to like you can sometimes result in the decline of several new opportunities.
This constant need for approval often results in instilling a feeling of anxiety, of worry, of ruminating about challenges or aspects of life in general.
How do you overcome this constant urge for the approval of others?
Here I’ve listed a few simple changes which you could use to instil faith in yourself (self-approval) and overcome the need for the approval of others:
Acknowledge that you have been hunting for approval:
The only possible way in which you could begin your fantastic journey to quell your particular thirst for this approval is by becoming acquainted with it and aware of it. This urge for seeking approval tends to become an addiction, the more you usually get of this, the more you turn out to be hungry for more of the same. Once you become aware that you have been overly, unnecessarily seeking the approval of others, that is when you might begin to tackle this issue from within. Recognise it within yourself to begin with.
Practice speaking your mind:
You may need to stop making an extremely conscious effort to usually say what the others want you to say or want to hear from you. If you always agree with all the people who surround you, then you would eventually end up bottling all your thoughts, your own expression, your individuality and you may become an echo chamber and even a much more bitter and resentful person. You need to value your own thoughts, your ideas, your values, and your very own beliefs. They define who you are. You may have to speak your mind and then let all the chips fall where they might. It takes courage, but will help you to let go of incessant approval-seeking.
Find your crowd:
You may have to seek people who would accept you for the person that you are. You need to choose the people who would also choose you in turn. The people with whom you could be your absolute true self. Find your tribe, the people who give you the space to express who and how you are.
Do things for yourself:
When you have set yourself to multiple new tasks, you can evaluate yourself on whether you have been pursuing this concerned course of action as a result of the constant urge within you which wants the approval of the other people, or if it has been for your self-growth. Start to engage in more things that advance you, your sense of self and your own development.
In various situations and instances, you might not understand what the right course of action would be, and you tend to rely on the opinions given by others. While it is not a very big problem, in the end, you must remember that, ultimately, you are the one who holds the steering wheel in your life. You might take advice from people, however, you can learn to make sure that you make the final decision on these things that concern you. Get comfortable taking control of situations, even if just for brief periods of time.
Meditation will eventually feed your soul. It helps you to relax your mind and allows you to reduce much of the anxiety issues that you feel when you think that you need external validation. You learn to understand that often, the only person who matters is you. And also often, the only person you have to please is you, and should continue to be you. Meditation and self-hypnosis practices help you create space and calmness and reduces your need for approval and external validation.
Allow yourself to grow:
When you always have room for some sort of improvement, you become more likely to get yourself free from this need for approval. You can challenge yourself every day and then accept the failure and the necessary feedback as your platform for growth. Continue to learn and develop and recognise your own growth and value it. You’ll approve of yourself more and others will follow suit.
Change your focus:
One of the absolute best ways to eliminate this constant need for approval would be by pursuing the activities or the tasks which only you would be interested in. You can prioritise yourself, and then do all the necessary things for yourself. Have a shift in focus on occasion – you do not need to become overly self-consumed, just focus on some things in your life that interest only you.
Establish who you are:
Develop a have a crystal clear definition of the person that you are. You must know what you tend to believe in and then understand your morals. Self-awareness equips us greatly and readies us to stop seeking external validation.
You can stop panicking about what others might think of you, and focus more on yourself. You may have to acknowledge all the little things that make you the person you are today. Acknowledging yourself allows you to be the best version of (or be working towards) yourself for the rest of your life. You discover more comfort with and towards yourself. You can show your true colours and then let these colours glow in all of their beautiful imperfections.
For some there is a constant fear that has been holding them back. You can develop and give yourself the confidence to make your choices without the need for any external validation. Keep on following your beliefs and dreams, and you will surely live a happier life. When you awaken your utmost true potential and eventually accept that you have always been the main person you need to please, you find absolute freedom.
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Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book.